Walmart is the world’s largest retailer. When a company the size of Walmart commits to a recycling program, its impact can be significant, to say the least. This impact is not just seen here in the United States, but it is also felt around the world. In the United States, Walmart and Sam’s Club stores were able to divert 64% of their waste from landfills between February 2009 and January 2010 through recycling and reuse programs. The recycling program at Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in the United States is a massive operation. In 2009, the company recycled more than 1.3 million pounds of aluminum, 120 million pounds of plastics, 11.6 million pounds of mixed paper and 4.6 billion pounds of cardboard. Yes, 4.6 billion pounds of cardboard. Although diverting this waste from landfills by recycling is beneficial, Walmart is working to reduce the amount of waste generated. So, while these recycling figures may eventually go down in the years to come, the amount of waste generated will also be reduced. One waste reduction initiative that the company is undertaking is reducing the amount of store reports that are automatically printed. This process alone will save the company nearly $20 million and eliminate 350 million printed pages. In addition to the recycling program, the company also works to reuse the excess food generated from its stores and clubs. In 2009, Walmart began using the U.S. EPA Food Waste Hierarchy and now donates the bulk of its excess food to the Feeding America program. Last year, Walmart donated more than 127 million pounds of food to Feeding America. Since Walmart has a global presence, it also has different levels of recycling rates at its locations around the world. Surprisingly (or perhaps not so) stores in a few other countries have a higher recycling rate than the stores do here in the United States. For example, in Japan, Walmart operates the Seiyu chain. Seiyu stores organize waste into 12 categories. Of these 12 categories, 10 are recyclable. The waste from these 10 recyclable categories allowed Seiyu stores to recycle more than 82% of its waste in 2009. Puerto Rico is another area that has a higher store recycling rate than stores in the 50 states. Walmart-owned facilities in Puerto Rico are recycling 77% of their waste thanks in part to an organic waste redirection project. The company is also working with locals to implement community recycling programs. These are just a few examples of how Walmart is focusing on the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle). The company’s recycling program is massive, but it is always working on creating new avenues for waste reduction and reuse.
Walmart Recycles Billions of Pounds of Waste Each Year
Perhaps surprisingly, Walmart’s recycling programs are paramount among big-box stores.